Here’s a big bite of parenting news that is sure to bring you comfort in our increasingly digital world: The most famous Facebook dad of all, Mark Zuckerberg, still isn’t exempt from receiving parenting criticism online.
The latest wave of finger-wagging against Zuckerberg’s role as a dad has come from the anti-vaccination community, commonly referred to as anti-vaxxers. Zuckerberg received an overwhelming response to a Facebook photo he posted on Friday of taking his infant daughter, Max, to the pediatrician for some of her first shots. A post that was liked more than 3 million times over the weekend also drew its fair share of opposition from anti-vaxxers, who slammed Zuckerberg for subjecting his daughter to unnecessary shots that may have the potential to cause brain damage.
Any parent who’s ever dared to Google “vaccine pros and cons” probably saw this coming. At the very least, all us parents living out here in the real world can take comfort in the fact that Zuckerberg is one of us. He too has to be a normal dad who takes his daughter to the doctor for shots. And he too has to deal with other parents who disagree (often venomously) with his parenting choices.
The fact that this big Facebook debate centers on the topic of vaccines is an interesting one. Within Zuckerberg’s own sphere of influence, on Facebook, you’ll find all the proof you need: There are plenty of official Facebook pages and private groups that support the anti-vaccination movement, along with hundreds of pages and groups designed to refute the “junk science” often associated with these anti-vaxx claims.
Zuckerberg taking his baby to get her shots may seem like a small step for most parents, but in the greater context of the celebrity parenting world, it’s a giant leap for parent-kind. You see, we non-celeb parents can argue about vaccines until we are blue in the face, but it’s hard to match the influence of one celebrity mom or dad.
Most of the time, we see celebrity parents on the other side of the vaccination fence. It’s hard to forget one of the most notorious anti-vaccine parents of all, Jenny McCarthy, who said vaccines caused her son’s autism. Reality TV celebrity and mom of three Kristin Cavallari took the anti-vaccine baton from McCarthy, along with other well-known anti-vaxx celeb parents, like Alicia Silverstone and Holly Robinson Peete.
While everyone is entitled to make their own parenting choices, there are several big problems with the growing celebrity anti-vaxx movement. For one thing, we know that herd immunity is real, and the most recent outbreaks of diseases that have already been almost completely eradicated from the use of vaccines can be traced back to parents who chose to not vaccinate. And for another thing, it’s easy to be influenced by what celebrity parents are doing when it’s splashed all over the news — especially when we’re so often told, “Celebrities, they’re just like us.”
So let’s consider Zuckerberg’s Facebook post for what it really is: a palate cleanser of all the celebrity parenting fluff for the new year. This is a regular dad we’re seeing, doing a regular thing with his young daughter that also happens to be a very important part of parenting. The sad truth is that many celebrity parents have created confusion on this topic of vaccinations and have often spread misinformation, whether knowingly or unknowingly. When we see dads like Zuckerberg performing their parental duties and embracing conventional medicine, it gives us a much more accurate — and sensible — perspective on how to parent our kids.